"The Heptameron" (generally accepted to be the work of Marguerite de Navarre, Queen of Navarre and the sister of Francois I), like Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" and Boccaccio's "Decameron, " is a collection of tales told by characters -- in this case, five gentlemen and five ladies stranded in abbey. The storytelling soon devolves into a verbal battle between the sexes, as the tales concern lovers, romantic conquests, and women's virtue -- objects of pride and power. "The Heptameron" is a book to delight, offend, and educate ...

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